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12 April 2014
Log boat dating back 4,500 years found in Ireland

A 4,500-year-old log boat is among 12 early Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval craft that have been located in Lough Corrib (co. Galway and co. Mayo, Ireland), along with several Viking-style battle axes and other weapons.
     The vessels were discovered by marine surveyor Capt Trevor Northage while mapping the western lake to update British admiralty charts. Investigative dives were subsequently carried out last summer by the underwater archaeology unit (UAU) of the National Monuments Service, and radiocarbon dating of samples was then conducted.
     The 4,500-year-old log boat settled into the mud when it sank and was covered over time. A mixture of organic sediment and lake water assisted in the preservation process. Even the seats in the boats are preserved.
     The oldest of the vessels located, the 4,500-year-old Annaghkeen log boat, had already been lying on the bed of Lough Corrib for 3,500 years when the Vikings arrived, Capt Northage has pointed out. The 12m vessel is almost identical to the Lurgan log boat found in 1902; and the Carrowneden boat found near Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, in 1996.
     "The Annaghkeen boat was made from a very big tree, and it took a lot of skill and effort to make it," said UAU archaeologist Karl Brady. "The fact that all three boats were located within 30 miles of each other would suggest that they were made by the one builder, or that there was a vogue for early Bronze Age boats of this type," he said.
     Capt Northage noted the Annaghkeen vessel was the same age as that estimated for the oak trackway recently revealed by storms along the north Galway shoreline. "These people were living in a very different landscape and working at the forefront of technology back then," he said.
     All of the weapons have been recovered for conservation by the National Museum, including bronze spearheads and a very rare wooden spear. There are no immediate plans to raise the vessels, due to the high cost involved. "The lake water obviously has very good preservation qualities," Mr Brady said.

Edited from The Irish Times (9 April 2014), Irish Central (10 April)

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